Teaching the Truth about the Miracles of the Multiplications of the Loaves and Fish!
TO CATHOLICS WHO WANT THE CHURCH TO GROW IN HOLINESS AND NUMBERS: Many people fall away from the Catholic Church or do not enter it because they do not know or believe that Jesus is God and He is really present in the Blessed Sacrament. This needs repeating: There are many people who do not believe Jesus could really be present under the appearance of bread and wine. The Mass and Eucharist are such awesome miracles from Jesus to the Catholic Church and the world, and yet many people do not know how they can have the closest possible relationship with Jesus through receiving the Holy Eucharist and living the Mass. Today, there are many attacks against people of faith, as well as against the divinity of Jesus Christ, the existence of God and absolute truth. Now more than ever, the Catholic Church needs many more witnesses to oppose the dictatorship of relativism and to strongly support belief in the supernatural and the great value of real miracles to help prove the existence of God and the miracle of the Holy Eucharist. A great example of such miracles are the multiplications of the loaves and fish.
LOAVES AND FISH – 2000 YEAR-OLD INTERPRETATION: Jesus performed many miracles during His public ministry. In two of them, Jesus multiplied loaves and fish, feeding thousands of people, one time 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish with 12 baskets of leftovers (Mt. 14:15-21), and another time 4,000 men with 7 loaves and a few fish with 7 baskets of leftovers (Mt.15:32-38). In each case, thousands of women and children were also fed because the Bible says the numbers of 5,000 and 4,000 men did not include women and children.
LOAVES AND FISH – NON-CATHOLIC REVISIONIST INTERPRETATION: After the Protestant Reformation, non-Catholic theologians began changing the literal interpretation of the miracles in the New Testament. In the case of the multiplications of loaves and fish, they said what really happened is that Jesus preached about sharing and the crowd responded by bringing out food hidden in their belongings.
The Miracles of the Loaves and Fish: 20 Reasons the Revisionist Interpretation is WRONG
1) There is not one shred of evidence in the New Testament that these miracles involved sharing. There is no proof from any Early Doctor or Father of the Church, or old or new saint, who wrote that this involved miracles of sharing. In fact, the Early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church, who wrote on this topic, say specifically that these were supernatural miracles, where Jesus multiplied loaves and fish. In Bible footnotes and Catholic commentaries, the multiplication of loaves and fish are always described as supernatural miracles. Anyone who says this is a miracle of sharing is required to show proof from the New Testament and from the past 2000 years of Church history, but they cannot do this, because there is no such proof.
2) Nothing is mentioned by Jesus or by the writers of Scripture about the crowds needing to be told to share. There has never been a custom or general practice in Israel for people to carry food in their belongings, hidden and not shared with others. The Jews were not stingy people, nor are they today. They have a long history of being among the most charitable people in the world.
3) St. Mark refers to the multiplication of the loaves as follows – When the Apostles saw Jesus walk on the sea: They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed (New Jerusalem Bible, Mk. 6:51-52). Creating loaves out of nothing breaks all natural laws just as walking on the sea does. Getting people to share is not a miracle in any sense of the word.
4) After 18 centuries of Christianity, a German-Protestant theologian, Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976), among others, developed and popularized this radical re-interpretation of the miracle of the multiplications of the loaves and fish. Bultmann denied the reality of miracles as supernatural events, including the Resurrection of Jesus. In his first volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI is critical of the work of Bultmann and his followers, addressing Bultmann and his arguments several times. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. has written: It is time to reject and reverse the infuence of writers like Rudolf Bultmann, who dismantled the picture of Christ, leaving us only with remnants. (See: Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew by Eric Sammons, foreword by Fr. Groeschel, C.F.R., published by Our Sunday Visitor in 2010).
5) This revisionist interpretation completely undermines belief in the supernatural, ignoring the standard definition of a miracle which is an unnatural occurrence brought about by divine intervention and which cannot be explained by science. This mis-interpretation, which has NO evidence in the Scriptures, was another way that non-Catholics could help DIMINISH the Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
6) The Catholic faith is NOT founded on myths. The Protestant Reformation taught private interpretation where everyone could interpret the Bible in any way they wanted in place of Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. This has led to more and more divisions and many thousands of Protestant denominations and independent churches. It is absolutely certain that eliminating the supernatural interpretation from the miracles of Jesus will lead to more doubts about Jesus and His true presence in the Holy Eucharist, His Resurrection, the Bible, and the Catholic Church itself.
7) The New Testament never mentions or even hints that people had hidden supplies of food. It is not even implied and it is totally denied when Jesus says: they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat. (Mt. 15:32). In Mark 8, it says:In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat… Jesus said to His disciples: they have now been with Me three days and have nothing to eat. (Mk. 8:1-2) Even if they had brought hidden food, they would have eaten it over the three days in the wilderness. Jesus said they have nothing to eat. Jesus is God and would not have been ignorant that hundreds of people were supposedly hiding food in their belongings. He would have said that many of them have bread and fish and He would get them to share it.
8) If this were a miracle of sharing, then hundreds of people had to be hiding food in their belongings. On the other hand, Jesus knew the people had no food and that they were not hoarding it for themselves, for He said they have nothing to eat; and He was concerned that, if he dismissed them, they would faint on the way. (Mt. 15:32). Jesus is God and He knew they did not have hidden food or He would not have said they would faint on the way.
9) Jesus and the Apostles gave out the loaves and fish. There is absolutely no mention about the people sharing and giving food to each other. Luke 9:16 (RSV) says that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, and… kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. John 6:11 (RSV) says that Jesus took the loaves, and He distributed them to those who were seated; also the fish as much as they wanted. Mark 6:41 and gave them to His disciples to set before them. It says He kept giving the food to the disciples. In no place does it say He took food from some people and gave it to other people, nor does it say that Jesus got the people to share.
10) THIS IS IMPORTANT – There is a direct connection between the actions of Jesus when He multiplied the loaves and when He gave the world His Body and Blood at the Last Supper. All six Gospel accounts of the two multiplications of the loaves include the SAME EXACT ACTIONS, which match the EXACT SAME ACTIONS OF JESUS at the Last Supper as described in the three Synoptic Gospels which document how Jesus transformed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. Both times when He multiplied the loaves, He took them, blessed them, broke them, and gave them to His disciples. (SEE: Mt.14:19, Mk.6:41, Lk. 9:16, Jn.6:11, Mt.15:36, Mk.8:6) At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, andgave it to His disciples (SEE: Mt.26:26, Mk.14:22, Lk.22:19). It is extremely rare that all the Gospel writers are ever so IDENTICAL when relating anything that Jesus said or did. Also on the road to Emmaus, Jesus did the exact same things: He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the two disciples, then they recognized Him and He vanished (Lk.24:30-31).
11) Most priests have convinced large numbers of people to share and many responded generously. If people were merely sharing, then everyone who gets a lot of people to share much is a potential messiah, which is absurd! Getting people to share is definitely not a miracle, just like there would be no miracle if Jesus had gotten people to share. The miracles of the multiplications of the loaves and fish are true signs that Jesus has powers that NO mere human has.
12) There is a principle in the study of Scripture that the Old Testament foreshadowing must not be greater that the New Testament fulfillment. The manna was a supernatural miracle,bread from heaven (Jn.6:31), and the multiplications of the loaves and fish HAVE to be supernatural miracles, or else the manna, as an Old Testament foreshadowing of the Holy Eucharist, would be a greater miracle than the multiplications of the loaves and fish, a New Testament foreshadowing of the Holy Eucharist. If the multiplications of the loaves and fish were only a sharing of hidden food, they would be far inferior to the supernatural miracle of the manna from heaven in the desert.
13) In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to reserve 12 loaves of bread in the Holy Place, outside of the Holy of Holies. The bread, called the Bread of the Presence, was a promise to the Jews that the manna would return when the Messiah, the new Moses, returns. The crowds recognized Jesus as the Messiah when He miraculously multiplied the loaves and fish because they knew what their Scriptures said about the return of the manna from Heaven. They even wanted to make Him king because they recognized that He was the new Moses, the Messiah. The people said, This is the Prophet who is to come into the world (John 6:13-14 – RSV).
14) Jesus said to the crowd which followed Him: Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled (Jn. 6:26). Dr. Brant Pitre has written about how the Jews believed that just a small piece of the Bread of the Presence satisfied the hunger of anyone who ate it …. Jesus was now giving ordinary Jews the Bread of God’s Presence which previously only priests were allowed to eat! This would have been a nearly earth shattering event for the average Jew. By his action in giving them bread only a small portion of which satisfied their hunger, Jesus was clearly indicating that he was the new Moses, the Messiah. (See: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Dr. Pitre, forward by Dr. Scott Hahn, Random House, 2011.)
15) There were thousands present at each miracle and, if it were a matter of sharing, all of them supposedly only brought LOAVES AND FISH. Many hundreds of people would have had to bring food and yet they all brought the EXACT SAME FOOD. It is not even logical that some did not bring olives, figs, or other fruit or honey, or any other staples. However, all six accounts of these miracles only mention loaves and fish. (Mt. 14:13-21, Mk. 6:32-44, Lk. 9:10-17, Jn. 6:1-15,Mt. 15:32-39, Mk. 8:1-10)
16) If it were a matter of sharing, what are the chances on both occasions that there were exactly the right number of people who had food to share and all the people were satisfied, including thousands of women and children, and both locations still had leftovers? If those who had food hidden away shared with those who did not, it is not even logical that there was more than enough food each time and that there would be several baskets of leftovers in each case.
17) Why would Catholics undermine very important miracles and promote a mis-interpretation from Rudolph Bultmann, a Protestant, who did not accept the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church, and who did not believe that the bread and wine at each Catholic Mass become the TRUE glorified Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? Just as the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, we can be transformed by receiving Him worthily at every Eucharistic celebration.
18) The 2000 year-old interpretation helps greatly in evangelizing and in bringing people into the Catholic Church and to encourage belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The multiplications of the loaves and fish are real miracles that bolster belief in the supernatural and they help prove the existence of God and they help prove the miracle that happens in each Mass, which is the most profound way in the world that people can communicate personally with the living Jesus.
19) If these miracles were about sharing and the crowds fed each other and Jesus did not feed them, then many people may question why priests are needed and even why Jesus is necessary. If people can feed each other by sharing food, some may believe that is all that is necessary. How does such a mis-interpretation help people learn that the Holy Eucharist is a real miracle giving us the true presence of Jesus and God performs it through each priest at every Mass?
20) It is very significant that the multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only miracle that is recorded in all four Gospels. By teaching the truth that Jesus did in fact multiply loaves and fish on both occasions, many more people will know that the Eucharist is much more than a symbol. And many more people will come to know that the Eucharist allows them to develop a deep, unique relationship with Jesus through which they can become one with the body of Christ.
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